Sudden Cardiac Arrest is not just a UK problem but a worldwide issue. It is likely that ever since humans have roamed the earth people have been dying from cardiovascular disease and genetic cardiomyopathies.

With the advent of modern scientific research methods and reliable techniques of resuscitation we have started to see a u-turn in a previously one-way street.

However, worldwide survival rates are generally still quite poor but there is hope as much effort is being put into this area, not only in the medical practices that keep patients alive but the gathering of data and evidence to drive a bigger and better Chain of Survival systems to improve the chances of a sufferer surviving with a good outcome.


UK OHCAO project

The UK Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Outcomes Project (OHCAO) project has established a database that brings together for the first time information about people throughout the UK who sustain an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) with a view to improving survival.

Improving patient outcomes from OHCA is a key priority for the NHS. To identify the key characteristics contributing to better outcomes in some ambulance services, reliable and reproducible systems need to be established for collecting data on OHCAs in the UK. The project is working with UK Ambulance Services to try and find out the reasons behind such big differences in survival. It will develop a standard way of collecting information about OHCA and for finding out if a resuscitation attempt was successful.

They have an excellent interactive map of the UK that allows you to drill down into the statistics they have for each ambulance region. Click on the map below to go to the interactive one.

Global Survival

A meta-analysis* study from 2020 looked at 141 OHCA studies from around the world with the aim of summarising the available evidence on the survival rate of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patients who received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

*examination of data from a number of independent studies of the same subject, in order to determine overall trends.

It showed the following:

Data pointRate
Return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC*)29.7%
Survival to hospital admission22%
1 month survival10.7%
Survival to hospital discharge8.8%
1 year survival7.7%

*ROSC = Where the resuscitation attempt results in a return of a detectable pulse at any time

Subgroup analysis showed that survival to hospital discharge was more likely among OHCA patients whose cardiac arrest was

  • Witnessed by a bystander or emergency medical services
  • Who received bystander CPR
  • Who was living in Europe or North America

The rates of OHCA patients who underwent CPR significantly increased throughout the study period along with increases in survival rates:

Data pointHistorical2010-2019
Survival to discharge8.6% (1976–1999)9.9%
1-month survival8.0% (2000–2009)13.3%
1-year survival8.0% (2000–2009)13.3%


The overall conclusion was that the global survival rate of OHCA patients who received CPR has increased in the past 40 years. A higher survival rate post-OHCA is more likely among patients who receive bystander CPR and who live in Western countries.

More information on individual countries can be found on our global cardiac arrest registries page.

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